Agencies plan broadband expansion in Chippewa Valley counties
Saturday, September 09, 2017
More rural areas will have access to internet via extension of fiber lines
Lake Holcombe area resident and school board President Corey Grape said it can be challenging to get quality internet service in the northwestern corner of Chippewa County.
“There is a lot of dead space, and inability to connect, even on phone lines,” Grape said.
However, that should soon change. Cornell-based Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative and New Auburn-based Citizens Connected on Tuesday announced plans to expand broadband services throughout underserved areas across the Chippewa Valley.
The two agencies are dubbing their joint venture as Ntera, and they are beginning with construction of broadband in Holcombe this fall, with more expansion plans to follow.
“I think it’s going to be huge,” Grape said. “Opening that opportunity to the area — technology is where it’s at. It’s a huge investment into the infrastructure for the area. There is a need, and they are reacting to it.”
Lake Holcombe schools Superintendent Jeff Mastin said his district doesn’t send internet-capable devices home with students because so many can’t connect to the web.
“More than 50 percent don’t have internet because they either can’t afford it or don’t have access to it,” Mastin said.
There is currently a fiber line along Highway 29, Mastin said. The plan is to have that line branch and go directly north along Highway 27 through Cornell, Lake Holcombe and Ladysmith. Mastin said the district has obtained state and federal grants to cover the estimated $80,000 it will cost to connect the school — which is about a mile west of Highway 27 — to the fiber line.